Matter cannot be destroyed, it merely changes state. That is the case when we expire and it is something Dead Cells explores as this rogue-like platformer seeks to enthral unsuspecting video game fans into its world of re-appropriating dead matter for one's own needs. Read on to find out what I made of this very dark game while traipsing the vast expo hall that is EGX.
Dead Cells starts off with the player being little more than an amorphous blob of green goo that has somehow become sentient. It's probably the result of a bottle of milk being left in the fridge for too long. Trust me, I've seen a three-year-old bottle of milk that had turned black and was riddled with red veins of I do not know what, so this scenario is entirely plausible.
Anyway this green goo can't do much except flow about the place and take control of dead bodies. Thankfully one just so happens to be lying about, so the player subsumes this cadaver of an unknown fallen warrior and proceeds to make their way through a vast, maze-like structure. So complex is this maze that the discovery of passageways and items within it are the sole thing that remains between each play session of Dead Cells.
There is more to Dead Cells than being a mere rogue-like in that the structure of the game is not a linear passage through an underground warren. For Dead Cells is also a Metroidvania game in that it requires the player to backtrack and discover new powers to gain access to other areas.
I know, I know, recipe for utter disaster right? You cannot possibly mix a rogue-like with a Metroidvania game and I too was somewhat sceptical of this construct, but the more I played the demo being shown at EGX 2016 the more of a convert I became.
The key is the concept of keeping the discovered areas open after the player has fallen, revealing more of the realm they are trying to explore every time they delve into Dead Cells.
Another striking thing about Dead Cells is the graphic engine being used. Looking at the screenshots in this preview you'd be forgiven to assuming that it is entirely 2D and you'd be right. However, all of the models start out as fully 3D and are flattened into the 2D plane, giving them a very convincing fluid motion as they flit across the screen. It's this more than anything that drew me to Dead Cells and has now led me to share my experience with it here.
Dead Cells is heading to Windows PC, Mac and Linux this Spring.